Monday, May 31, 2010

I'm a New Entrepreneurial Mom

I've had my head in baby land for a while now and thought it may be time to venture out of the office and house to meet other moms in business. I just joined a new Women's Business Networking Group call Entrepreneurial Moms. I should have a profile there soon-hopefully by early June! I'm also looking forward to their Mommy Fair June 12th.

I went to my first event last week and thought it was both inspiring and fun. I felt like my plate is pretty light compared to some of the moms juggling multiple children and both growing &/or thriving businesses.

As a short aside, the event refreshed my memory on the never ending debate over whether or not to use DayCare/DayHome/Nannies, and I am sure there will always be strong opponents for both. I still prefer my days with Scarlett too much to give them up, although some days I think a few afternoons or mornings off could be very nice.

The meeting made me face the fact that we have been lucky to just "coast" through our days. (It never feels like we're coasting, but that I have piles of work to do that never quite get done.) But when compared to a new business that requires as much attention as a newborn baby, or an established business growing into a new market, maybe we do get to coast a little.

What did I learn? We had an excellent presentation by Wanda McArthur of Luscious Bags on the many hats that moms wear (both in business and life), and how we need to find what makes our life feel complete. One of our exercises was to reflect on our plans for life &/or business for the next 5 days and the next 5 months. That was challenging enough for me.

But then, how would that change if it were my last 5 days or last 5 months?

It is a challenge to balance how we spend our days. If the next days were my last, I would choose to spend them with family-those close and far away. If I still had my 5 months, my first thought is that I still want to travel and see more of the world and of course all those other things I still want to do! But we don't know if these are our last 5 days or 5 months.

The discussion at the event made me consider the example we give to our sons and daughters by the choices we make to stay at home or to work at our businesses or for others. For moms who stay at home and love it, that's an easy answer! It is probably the hardest but most rewarding job of all. But staying at home out of sacrifice is not the answer. And working at a job just to bring home a cheque is also not an answer. The last two choices lack the example that a parent can provide her children of finding or pursuing our passion and living a fulfilling life.

In case you can't tell, I can't quite decide what example I want to leave for my children. I want to be a great, loving mom and raise confident, happy, productive kids. But I also don't want to be the mom that was just there in the sidelines of the photos. I want to be someone that my kid(s) can be proud of and be inspired by. I won't get that by coasting, will I? It feels like it could be mission statement planning and vision board work coming up again soon!

How would you spend your last 5 days? Or your last 5 months?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Aloha to Book Club

I hosted book club this month and went with a Hawaiian theme in honor of our book Moloka'i. Here are some photos of my kitschy afternoon.
My first pineapple upside down cake. I used Nigella's recipe since I strive to be the domestic goddess she is.
Seashells and Fish in our Fruit

Pina Coladas

Do you like the grass skirt decoration?
Our little one slept through the party but kept the celebrations going long after

It turned out to be a good day to have a themed party, even if I did skip the canned ham and tiki torches. For May 29th, we had snow on the ground and temperatures hovering around freezing. This was a nice distraction for such a gloomy day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Unwanted Advice

We got our first today.

I decided to bring Scott with us to the grocery store so I could buy a few last minute groceries for my Hawaiian Themed Book Club Meeting tomorrow. (I'm so excited! It was a good book just screaming for a theme meeting. Moloka'i is the book by the way.). It was our third stop of the morning, which may be the start of the problem. First I got my chiropractic entrainment, Scarlett was an angel, then we drove to our office to meet Scott and walked over to the mall. We went to the dollar store for some flower lei's and drink umbrellas and the like. Scarlett was still content playing with a lei.

Then was Safeway. The first trip through the store, no problem, then it came to the watermelon (I was going for a tropical theme for the fruit even if it may not be technically grown in Hawaii.) Scarlett had already lost her lei as she liked watching Daddy run over it with the wheels of the stroller. Then I couldn't decide which watermelon I wanted.

The "upupupup" started, then the back arching, then the crying.

So, out of the umbrella stroller comes the monkey. Still launching herself in different directions while in my arms, but happier. Making boisterous noises (how dare she?!?!).

Walking to the checkouts, a little old lady starts her comments, "Oh, some body's not happy. Some body's not getting her way." "Do you watch SuperNanny on TV?" (Or some nanny show was referenced). I politely shake my head and keep walking. And on she goes. "Oh, she is amazing, I wish I had her when I had children. I watch it every week. It's on channel 29 at 8 pm Saturday nights" OK, I can't remember what channel she said, we don't have cable! We were about 20 feet away while she was continuing to feed us her unwanted advice.

Maybe it wasn't too much specific advice, but I still don't think it was appropriate. My daughter was barely acting up. Our situation was under control. And yes, she is spirited and likes things when she wants them and on her terms, but isn't that what toddlers do?

So there is the small amount of energy I will send towards this little lady. I know she meant well, and I sometimes find the nanny shows fascinating myself. But I also never intend to give my child time outs or punishment. (And yes, I know the difference between punishment and discipline). Thank you for your advice and no thank you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Productive Nap Time

I assume many Mompreneurs will say this, half of the business day can be squeezed into your babe's nap time.

Our house now revolves around an afternoon nap time. We get home or back into the house around lunch and hopefully down for a nap shortly after. And the days that I'm lucky, I can fit in 2-3 hours of work! (Of course, I listen to the advice and many days I will choose to drink my tea, read a little, write, blog, etc. over the thought of doing any work)

Of course, this is not time that I spend with clients, but is paperwork time. Today I had the fortune to work on my educational credits. I was reviewing research on PMS, dysmenorrhea, and connections to diet and lifestyle, and all of it was presented by two MEN! Just to confuse the matter for me, because the entire time I was listening to them present about afflictions of the female body I kept thinking, "Wouldn't this be more appropriate coming from a woman?" Anyhow, in case you did not already know, take your B6 vitamins, your omega 3 fats, your chaste berry tree fruit, your fibre, your primrose oil and flax and reduce your salt, alcohol, sugar, and other bad vices. And it must be old information because they were still encouraging the use of soy-where have I been? I thought that was a no-no now. (Please note: None of this information is intended to be used as medical advice. Talk to your doctor about your situation.) And as an aside, I have found in my practice that chiropractic adjustments can help to relieve many symptoms associated with PMS and painful cycles.

Today was a very productive nap time. It was such a long nap that Scott is now running after Scarlett at 9:45 pm tonight. Ooops.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Adventures From The Long Weekend

No we didn't go camping, and we barely left the city limits. But yes, we still had adventures aside from our everyday routine. As part of my 30 day commitment, I intend to have more adventures with Scarlett-check out some new places, satisfy the extrovert in her, and find some kid friendly places. Myself being a home-body, this is proving to be a challenge, and I love my house and garden more than new places. Here's what we've been up to over the weekend, but definitely NOT high on the originality scale.

Bowness Park- We always love it there. Three kids playgrounds including a water park, the lagoon with ducks and geese, many pathways to take the stroller or to let the little ones run, and lots of bathrooms. And of course, dogs and other kids and parents. I almost never have to park there but I always see parking spots when we're walking. And did I mention it is year-round? Skating in the winter and the paddle boats and canoes look ready to go for the spring. And yes, coffee and ice cream and snacks are available too.

Calaway Park- Is it safe to say that every family in Calgary who wasn't out of town this weekend was at Calaway Park at some point? If you don't like amusement parks, don't go, but we can usually have fun for a morning or afternoon. So far we've only been on a few rides with Scarlett, but I find that the excitement of the place is something our daughter thrives on. She eats better, laughs a lot, and loves watching the big kid rides and hearing the screams. And then we have an almost guaranteed nap to follow. We take our big stroller but I imagine it may be difficult in the restaurants and washrooms if I was the only adult. I recommend packing your own lunch and snacks because the food choices are limited, or just be content that you will be eating burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, fries, or pizza! And we always forget that we live in Calgary. The weather may be balmy at our house and the park may have a wind chill. Pack every type of clothing, plus hats and sunscreen.

And reader, beware... As much as I love the idea of growing my own food, supporting local producers, eating safe and organic, the truth is, we still shop monthly at...

Costco- And why did this make the list for friendly kid places? Again, for us, the busyness of the place keeps our kid occupied. There is a lot to look at. On our last visit, we also had samples galore, of some okay food. Scarlett ate more than her usual lunch-with 2 samples of organic lentil soup (I had to bring some home), and crackers, and cereal mix. There are some food options to purchase that are tolerable in my books and I just figured out that based on a monthly shopping trip, the savings on our lettuce alone pays for my membership. ($3.50 for a 3/4 lb container of organic spring mix). Of course, my lettuce is now sprouting in the garden and I prefer that any day. But for time and financial economy I will overlook some of the terrible things about a place like Costco.

I feel this list is pretty Calgarian. It isn't necessarily a reflection of the lifestyle that I wish I was living, but some days, it is easier to just embrace our city. It is about consumption and having our entertainment provided to us, and then a little bit of enjoyment of our natural surroundings...

Monday, May 24, 2010

In The Rhubarb Way

Rhubarb is a pretty big weed in our backyard. A bit like a dandelion, perhaps? Both are only weeds if you think they are-after all, we do have the best patch of dandelions on our block! The rhubarb plant scares me a little with its enormous leaves, and it drowns out the sun for the surrounding little plants. It is very smart at channelling every drop of water and ray of sunshine for its own growth. But because I like my iris's better, I had to pick some this weekend to let the other plants grow. And it gets the honor of being the first edible produce from our garden this year. (Oops, I lied, we already ate some chives).

I wanted a picture of my rhubarb, but I didn't want a picture of my gardening attire and hat! Thanks for blurring me out Scott!

We will be eating some rhubarb for dessert tonight. Maybe a crisp or a fool?

Rhubarb always makes me think of driving, "Keep out of the rhubarb!". Are there places where rhubarb grows in ditches?

And yes, the weather held this long weekend. I have my veggie seeds all planted and I did some marathon weeding of a few flower beds. Scott was a huge help at keeping Scarlett occupied since I needed to work in our front yard where little girls are not allowed. Next I need to finish my transplants and baskets, before I can relax and watch the garden grow.

My note: As I recently had brought to my attention, I'm not blogging much about taking my babe to work with me. (A little but not a lot). I'm happy to answer questions about taking our baby to work, if you have any! I'm just taking my creative freedom and writing about the rest of our life with babe in tow. There will be posts about our baby at work, here and there!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No Park For Us Today

It looks like our local park is out of commission.

I'm sad. Truthfully, I never really paid attention to the pesticide/herbicide applications by the City of Calgary, until I used the parks. Now I'm wondering if I should be using this park. I know that there are parks around that do not spray and it may be time for me to search them out. Anybody reading this, please let me know of close and safe parks that we can go to!

Look how close to the playground equipment it is!

I was recently asked if we would be getting playground equipment in our backyard for Scarlett and I had no intention of doing so-aside from an inflatable pool and other toys. I was happy walking with her to the local park where we could play. I think it's great to help build community, meet new people or to see people we know, and to just get a break from our surroundings. But today, I'm rethinking that decision.

By the way, the sign shows that it uses, Killex 500, a mix of 2-4 D, Dicamba and Mecoprop, which has been "persuasively linked to cancers, neurological impairment and reproductive problems." (quoted from an article in the Calgary Herald, June 28, 2007). I am sure there is more nasty information on the herbicide, but I didn't look for any more.

As much as I was looking forward to the sun this long weekend, now I'm looking forward to rain to help wash some of the chemicals away. Although there really is no "away" is there?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I had my first day that I thought I was going to have to cancel work-for a temper tantrum that is. But I made it to work-late by only 5 minutes. Here's what happened:

3:00 pm Scarlett's sleeping. We normally start the leaving the house process so that I can be ready to work at 4 pm, but I thought I'd give her a few more minutes to sleep while I pack everything up.

3:15 pm Still sleeping. So I open the curtains, start making more noise, and wait a couple more minutes. I run the blender. There's no waking the girl that we normally tip-toe around when she's sleeping.

3:20 pm I wake Scarlett up. She's quiet and a little grumpy. I change her diaper, put our shoes on, pack the bags in the car and lock the door. I think I'm leaving.

3:25 pm When did the screaming and tears and battle begin? Around now? I decide to start the car, turn on the A/C and open the driver's window to help cool off the car. She's still screaming. I offer a snack, I offer toys, I offer books, I offer to nurse. Nothing.

3:30 pm Not sure when the hair and clothing pulling began, but it probably wasn't a good idea to wear a dress today. We've lost one of Scarlett's shoes in the car now. She's planking whenever I try to put her in her seat, when she's not alternating clinging to me then pushing me away. More screaming and tears.

3:35 pm I decide to take a breather and we walk in the driveway with Scarlett's little arms clinging around my neck and breathing in between sobs. We watch the cars drive by. Big fat rain drops start to fall and thunder is rolling in.

3:40 pm Try the car seat again. Manage to get the arms in and buckled but Scarlett is determined to slide away that I worry she might inadvertently hang herself before I get the bottom buckled. I unhooked her (error?) She's still screaming and crying. Really big fat tears, just like the rain outside.

3:45 pm The big fat raindrops have now soaked the front seat. I let go of Scarlett to put the window up and dry off the seat. Decide to take another breather and walk into the house. (had to turn the car off first). Call office to warn them that the situation's not going well. Scarlett's crying in the background of course-it helps to verify my story.

3:47 (?) pm The rain's letting up now but we're both soaked. The sandals were not a good idea either. Grab our jackets while we're in the house and try the car seat again. Our neighbor has company and three little kids are sitting in the car, providing a few moments of distraction. Scarlett must be getting tired as I wrestle her in to her seat. She's in the seat and safely strapped in!

3:48 pm We drive away. Screaming still so I alternate music on and off. Eventually it's quiet in the backseat. I try to go through my protocol, " Scarlett, I'm sorry that you're feeling upset and weren't ready to leave the house. But Mommy has to go to work and see clients and Daddy wants to see you!". I hope that is the best way to handle it. I make really loud breathing noises and I hope maybe she'll copy me.

4:05 pm We arrive at the office! Scarlett is now a quiet angel. I guess she's warn out. Thank you to my clients who also have children so could sympathize. My story seems a little pathetic now, but sadly true.

And what did we learn? Be slow when it comes to waking up someone during a nap, give lots of time, and once the situation is under control, acknowledge that it is OK to have the upset emotions and explain why we did what we did. I referenced the Discipline without Distress book and it seems I handled it in an acceptable manner. That portable DVD player is sounding like a good idea.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We Have a Winner!

I finally dragged myself in from the backyard and held the random draw for our give away. I wrote every body's names on pieces of paper and drew them from an empty Tupperware container. (Truthfully, but only Scarlett and our dog were witnesses). Our winner is Jenny from who receives a portrait session with Stick Out Your Face Photography aka Scott. Congratulations! And isn't it fitting that Jenny just had a giveaway on her blog a few weeks ago? Thanks to everyone who commented and / or signed up to follow my blog. It has been fun to watch the site traffic increase this past week and I've enjoyed the comments, both on here and in real life!

Isn't it beautiful out? I'm enjoying the flowering trees and shrubs, the sunny warmth, and the sweet smell in the air. We're contemplating blowing up one of the inflatable pools for Scarlett to splash around in this afternoon. Last night we even managed to sit outside and eat dinner. We may have to stick around town for the long weekend if this weather continues. I do have a few books that I would like to get through and I'd be happy puttering in the backyard and reading. The book I'm working on at the moment is Discipline without Distress, by Calgary's own Judy Arnall. I highly recommend it from what I've read so far.

That's all for today! Enjoy the sun.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dirt Girl

We got the vegetable garden half in on Sunday-right on schedule in my world! I seeded my root vegetables, transplanted a few perennials, weeded and de-grassed parts of the garden, and then watered it all and called it quits. I was proud of the work we accomplished. Our little darling even helped to sow some lettuce and sweet pea seeds.

My mother, who has a very green thumb, had advised that LAST week was when the root crops should go in, and NEXT week will be the rest of the seeds. When I mentioned to her late last week that I didn't have my root vegetables in yet, she hesitated then said that of course I could plant them on the weekend. But the hesitation? (Also note that I didn't mention transplants yet, this part is only about seeding). My mom once had an article in the Salmon Arm paper called "Faith on Gardens" (really) and she's also gardened in the North Peace, so her information is reliable. I believe one of her sources is the Farmers' Almanac, so that's where I headed next.

The Farmer's Almanac is a little confusing & I've posted it online here. What can I say except, oops. Apparently my seeds will now rot. It was a new moon on Friday, whatever that means in gardening circles. Tomorrow (Monday) will be safe for planting, but not the weekend. Now we can plant Monday or Tuesday (17th/18th) but then not again until the 24th, so definitely take your long weekend early. Of course, I was planning to plant again on Friday or Saturday, so I better make new plans. Confused yet?

So, I decided to check out some local advice: According to this blogger, I'm doing just fine and there's no mention about the moon. The advice there is a little more generic, with of course, the usual Calgary advice-don't transplant until after the May long weekend.

So maybe the garden will survive after all.

It's also not my first garden, I'm now on year 8 of gardening in Calgary. But for those who do garden, you know that every year you wonder when should the seeds go in, when should I plant? You watch the weather, apparently you should watch the moon, and you watch your own schedule for when you have time to get it all done. And for me, that all aligned this Sunday. My dad had turned the soil, Scott added the compost-complete with coffee filters and egg shells sticking up every foot, and Scott and Scarlett were busy playing ball for long enough for me to do most of the seeding. Which is the easy part, truthfully.

Now I can look forward to watching the garden grow, which should start within the next two weeks. Unless my seeds rot in the ground, of course.

Friday, May 14, 2010

And The Best Adventure Is In Our Backyard

Our little girl has been quite the trooper this week. We've hauled her to the office more than usual as our evening receptionist was on holiday and then sick. Many surfaces are covered in stickers, and the floors are cleaner from all the water and snacks that have been spilled.

In addition to afternoons at Elan, I was on a mission to visit a few new places in Calgary. Here's where we've been and my experience of whether they were kid friendly or not.

Body Worlds at Telus World of Science was relatively kid friendly-umbrella strollers only though and you'd best prepare for crowds. I ended up carrying Scarlett in a sling on my back because she was tired and also a little squirrely in one room of the exhibit. Definitely don't let your kids wander as there is too much to grab (like the bodies). The centre does have good change facilities in their family washroom. And the subject matter? You can decide on that one. I found it mostly tastefully done, although I think I would choose not to display the drawer man or the angel woman. Try not to listen too much to other people as there was a lot of confusion when people were trying to figure out what body part was what.

After Body Worlds, we went to the Weiner Schnitzel Haus in Montgomery-it's only been on our places we want to eat list for a few years now. Very yummy food. We opted to get take out because of the long afternoon, but while we waited for our food, the waitress played a bit with Scarlett and also gave her a snack (thank you!). Scarlett ran around a bit and liked watching the chef cook in the open kitchen. The restaurant is small so as long as the other patrons like kids, you'd be set!

Cadence Coffee in Bowness. Not new to us but I haven't been there in a while because it is so trendy and busy! I like when Bowness has something great to offer. A nice customer helped me hold the door for the stroller. (And they close at 4 pm in case you decide to go in the evening).

I tried to go shopping at Plum in Westhills-beautiful clothes but I need to go back without Scarlett. She wanted to join the mannequins in the window display. Nobody fawned over my child...(gasp)

And again, not a new store to us, but we made a visit to Babes in Arms and of course they are super kid friendly. They have a kids play area, and they sell many kids items-diapers, slings, wooden toys, and teething necklaces. Scarlett has a new hazelwood necklace, which seems to be working well. She started with a tiny skin rash and it was gone the following day (hazelwood is supposed to reduce acidity in the body). Plus, every time we've been in the store, the staff have been great.

And that's all except our usual activities. But the favorite activity of this week...

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit and started cleaning and digging up my flower and vegetable gardens. (I may have to write a post one day on their incredible work ethic, and my lack of one). Scarlett got to help them in the garden. When her Mommy is with her, Scarlett's not allowed to wallow in the dirt, but Grandma and Grandpa let her get right in! At one point I looked out the window-I was making dinner-and saw Scarlett lying face down in the vegetable garden with dirt in her hand and mouth. Yucky.

Moments after getting up from lying in the dirt-where was the camera in time?

I'm sad you can't see the dirt better-it's around her mouth, in her hair and ears, ground into her pretty Gymboree top (which I hope it washes out of) and under her fingernails and toenails.

I look forward to our new adventure(s) this week!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Proof

I wanted to share that I am following my resolutions that I made last week. When I do my yoga, my cat and dog instantly appear and crawl all over me, and if Scarlett is awake, this is what has been happening:

Mommy gets a massage while she is in Child's Pose

Reach for the sky! (and no, I'm not pregnant-it's just the shirt)
Although we missed the photo of Scarlett throwing herself at my leg while I was balanced in Tree Pose!

Some days I can do the entire 30 minutes at one time. On those days, 30 minutes is not enough & I feel like I'm barely getting started. Other days, I have to break my 30 minutes into increments and I feel like there is not enough time. I hope I'll soon feel a shift, that it is all enough.

But so far, I feel pretty good. I missed doing yoga. I'll think about adding space in my schedule for activities like yoga (I could get up at a more decent hour in the morning), but only one thing at a time.

If you are new, this a report on my resolution to do 30 minutes of yoga for 30 days. I was influenced by Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Guilty Little Secret

I am sure that many moms have done this so I probably should not feel guilty. In fact, I told Scott what I had done and he thought it was a great idea.

Scarlett loves water, and bubbles, and monopolizing our time. I love spending much of my day with her, but most days also need to accomplish a few things and get ready for work. I feel too guilty about our use of the DVD player, so I had to rack my brain for a new idea.

Yesterday, I decided to pull up her little step stool to the bathroom sink, add some water and bubbles, and with the facet dripping, I let her play. Just splashing her hands in the soapy water. And she played there for 30 minutes. I got a lot done-makeup, hair, got dressed, made a snack for work, and probably a few other things and I didn't have to resort to using the TV.

That's it. I had guilty images of her falling off her stool, her eating bubbles, her drowning in the sink, or her crawling onto the cupboard and falling off that. I did catch her with her leg up on the cupboard, but the quiet when she's figuring out something new is a dead giveaway. The entire time she played I was either right beside her, or within feet of her. And I could hear her the entire time-splashing in the water and babbling away. And trust me when I say that our house is SMALL-she was close the whole time. It seemed too easy.

Am I guilty for no reason? Is this a sin equal to leaving the toilet cover up and letting her drown? Is this something everyone does but I didn't know? I was hoping that water play is both educational and good clean fun.

(And yes, I plan to report on our new adventures that we've been up to-it's just been a busy couple of days! Soon.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

My First Blog Give Away!

It always looks like so much fun when blogs have give aways. So here is my first, thanks to my wonderful husband Scott. For those who don't know, he has a photography business called Stick Out Your Face Photography: Scott has photographed weddings, babies, bellies, pets and portraits. He has agreed to give away a one hour portrait session. (see rules below)

(I took this photo of Scott and Scarlett, although he set up the shot & did post-production)
The Rules:
  1. Anybody who follows me and makes a comment on today's post will be entered. (to thank you for following me!)
  2. One entry per person.
  3. Comment on what you like-who you want to have a photo of, that you want to win, etc.
  4. You have to be able to get to Calgary or Salmon Arm for the photo session-unless you want to fly Scott in to your hometown.
  5. You'll get the images, although if you want him to play with the picture and make them extra pretty, you'll have to talk to Scott.
  6. You have ONE WEEK to enter-the deadline is Monday, May 17th, 2010, 11:59 pm.
  7. We reserve the right to add to these rules if needed.

Good luck!

P.S. The photo above was taken at the office on a take our baby to work day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I have a story stuck in my head that I keep going over and feel I must share. It is from Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed. I'm enjoying the read although truthfully, I never felt her reluctance about entering into marriage. In her book, the US government declares that she must marry her love if she wants him to live in her country (he is from Brazil), and as she is a general skeptic regarding the institution of marriage, she researches and dissects marriage to see how it will "fit" for them.

Elizabeth has also chosen to be childless. One chapter in her book is on Marriage and Women and she has unending references about the sacrifices that many mothers make for their families. The story that sticks in my head is the one about her Grandmother Maude:

Maude was ahead of her time-the only one in her family who received an education (this would be in the 20's & 30's); worked outside of the house; made and saved money; travelled; and at the height of her success and independence, bought a gorgeous wine-colored coat with a real fur collar for twenty dollars. (I've paraphrased Gilbert). Expensive, extravagant, and an unusual purchase for her family and time.

Then, Maude fell in love, got married, had kids and soon "gave it all up" to raise her family and also cook and clean for her father and brother-in-law. They farmed, life was tough, they had no money and Maude used up her savings to help on the farm. And then, shockingly, when her first daughter was born and Christmas rolled around, Maude cut up her cherished wine-colored coat with the real fur collar and used that material to sew a Christmas outfit for the new baby girl.

Gilbert continues to say, They (the women in our family) cut up the finest and proudest parts of themselves and gave it all away.

I think that is what defines a mother. You may not have to give up everything, or the best parts of you, but a decision like cutting up a coat so you can dress up your daughter for Christmas, is probably pretty appealing. I'd do it. You want to give your best to this wonderful person that you helped bring into being. And the dilemma of giving up a career, success, image, is overshadowed by the happiness and love that comes with having a family and kids. The freedom to love another human being unconditionally. (also from Gilbert).

I do respect Elizabeth Gilbert for recognizing that she does not want to be a mom. At the same time I sometimes bite my tongue and refrain from yelling at 20-somethings "have kids now!". To me, the careers and money won't last, and when I'm old, I want my family surrounding me. But that's just me. And probably a large percentage of moms out there.

As for our Mother's Day, we celebrated as a family last weekend in Canmore. Today was Scarlett and Mommy day. We tried to go shopping but Scarlett wanted to be in the window display, so no new clothes for Mommy. Then we made a special trip to buy her a new teething necklace, from Babes in Arms of course. That's her version of the cut up wine-colored coat for today!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Resolution Day

I have finally finished the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. As I've been saying over the past 2 weeks, now that I am finished, I am ready to commit to some form of my own happiness project. I think of it more as a Life Enjoyment Project since the reason I want to do this is to enjoy more out of each day and to have more in each day that I enjoy. As I've started to see over the past year and a half, life with a kid flies by without my even realizing it. I can spend a day focused on meals, naps, housework, getting ready for work, and maybe one fun or educational activity-where does the time go?

I like structure but I can't quite commit to the year long project as Gretchen did, with a different theme for each month. I've decided to just jump in and get started and brainstorm as I go for what I want to add during the year.

My resolutions:
  1. For the next 30 days, I commit to 30 minutes of yoga (or meditation or breath work) every day.
  2. I commit to a new adventure weekly with Scarlett in tow (either a new store, food place, activity or event)
  3. I commit to cleaning up my to-do list and life clutter. (one item a day).

I plan to add as I go, and re-evaluate after 30 days. If I like them, they can stay, if not I'll move on. Those 3 resolutions will help my health, my parenting, Scarlett, my creativity, and clean up some physical and mental clutter. I have lofty goals to play more, create, be healthy, eat well, evaluate where I am, strengthen my community involvement, be more eco-conscious... but all in due time.

My blog will not be focusing on this, aside from some check-ins and re-eval days, although I think I will be reporting on our new adventures, while continuing to write about work and life with our babe in tow.

As for today, I did my 30 minutes of yoga - in increments. After my first 15 minutes, the nap ended and I had to postpone my plans. But I squeezed in a few more poses as the day progressed. I'm curious how Scarlett likes this-in the past she has copied some movements; today just the dog and cat appeared within minutes of my start. I would love to find a toddler friendly yoga class, if anybody knows of one? But so far, on day 1, I feel good.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hooray for Midwives

It is International Day of the Midwife. We're at home with a teething Scarlett instead of at the Midwife "celebration" tonight, so I will take a few moments to share how happy we are to have a baby that was born with the help of midwives-oh so long ago.

Our midwives were Joy and Shianna (and we hope to work with them again) from the Cochrane Community Midwives. It was worth driving out to the farm for our monthly and then weekly appointments. It felt like driving out to the farm of Ina May Gaskin fame!

Why I loved our experience:
  • Our midwives spent time with us at our regular prenatal visits (we had 1/2 hour visits).
  • Prenatal visits themselves are empowering as I would take care of such things as my weight changes, urine pH, etc.
  • The midwives we worked with during our prenatal care were with us for our birth (shocking concept, I can't imagine a rotating team of 8 doctors!)
  • They supported us in whatever birth we wanted. Sure, we had nothing extreme in mind, but they didn't question us unless it was going to affect my health or the baby's health.
  • They provided lots of information for us to make an educated decision about such things as Vit K, using oxytocin after birth, and eye drops for baby.
  • They were able to refer us to like minded birth classes and health professionals.
  • They laughed when I asked who would "catch" the baby.
  • And of course our birth. Not a word of stress was added to the fact that my labor started on day 10 after my due date. I labored for 12 hours and got to experience it all-showers, walking the stairs, many labor positions, and I have no idea what else for that 12 hours. They came when I needed them, left us alone when we needed it (just in another room) and kept me out of the birth pool since I was slow to dilate. I pushed for 2 1/2 hours-in many different locations in the house too, including the birth pool, on the birthing stool, and they made me walk around as the head was partly crowned. I could not have made myself do that. For a birth junkie, it was all the perfect experience.
  • They asked us if we had a boy or a girl, instead of telling us.
  • Not to mention the midwives enabled us to have the home birth that I believe was the most gentle, non-invasive way for Scarlett to enter the world.
  • And after the birth-we had visits multiple times over the week to help with breastfeeding and baby care. We saw them until 6 weeks after the birth. And it took us until then to figure out breastfeeding anyways.

Did I get it all? Not to mention that it is lovely to be surrounded by individuals that believe in the strength of the woman's body and the process of natural birth, the way it is supposed to be. I wish all women could experience birth in this way.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Search Begins

I feel a little guilty about my last post. Yes, I whine, and I also know I should be creating my own happiness. Hence, the Happiness Project book that I'm currently reading. And soon, I hope to start my own happiness project, but I want to finish the book. Maybe that will be the theme of future Tuesday posts. That or the search that I plan to soon begin.

Today is going to be a long day for our little monkey as she will be coming to work this afternoon. My plan for days like today is to wear her out in the morning, get a big nap in after lunch and then she'll be ready and refreshed for work in the afternoon. We just happened to have plans for a play date with her little friend today.

To take a positive change of direction after my complaints of non-kid friendly places, how about we scout out some friendly ones? Today was easy-we went to Playgrounds Coffee in Strathcona and they are geared for both families and non families alike. You can sit in the front with your coffee and not even hear the kids, or you can enter through the glass door into kiddie land. (Please note: If you send your kid in to play, you're going in as well). Scarlett had fun and I was happy with the experience-lots of toys to climb on and through, a kid sized camping van, trains and tracks, mats on the floor, and more than I'm going to list here. I found it clean, not too loud or busy, and I would go back. And yes, there are places for adults to sit on the edges of the play area and drink coffee or eat.

But I don't really mean to scout out the obviously kid friendly places. We have found many of those: libraries, pools, pet stores, book stores, and parks of course. What I'd like to find is the places that may not be catering to kids but treat them like gold.

For instance, we love Kane's Harley Cafe in Inglewood. It is a diner so it may not be the healthiest food option, but when we've taken Scarlett there, we have had a waitress fawn over her, on repeated visits. She played games with her, peek-a-boo, picked up things off the floor, and our little girl loves that. So we'll go back. It's just a long drive for us, so we don't go often, but it is in our heart.

We love our local Angels cafe because Scarlett loves the milkshakes. Yes, we know it is bad for her, but we also love the burgers. We overlook the splintered wood in the picnic area and the cigarette butts everywhere because its local. I think Angels is to Bowness as Peters Drive In is to Calgary.

It is my goal to find places like this in Calgary and hopefully within a 10 km radius of our home. I hope to find ones that are not overly kid populated, but where the owners/employees love to see them. Any suggestions? Stroller accessibility optional.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kid Friendly

We just celebrated an early Mother's Day by spending the weekend in Canmore. Nice town in many ways and so close for us.

But I'm somehow stuck on the concept of Kid Friendly. Before Scarlett, I didn't need to give this idea much thought, but all of a sudden it feels like there are huge signs and flags everywhere.

For instance, our hotel was pretty kid friendly. (Best Western). We saw lots of kids everywhere, there was a pool with a slide - well that was big-kid friendly, and there were lots of food options at the complimentary breakfast that Scarlett would eat. Our room also came with a fireplace that we couldn't use since there was no protection between us and the hot glass, and a desk with sharp corners right at kid height. That's ok-no fire and we strategically placed items so Scarlett would make it to the real Mother's Day with both eyes. Plus, they let us bring our dog, so for us, dog friendly also meant kid friendly.

We decided to walk into town and use the stroller. It was a very accessible walk as the sidewalks have a smooth graduation to the road-perfect. And Canmore is a pretty busy town for the moms with babies and kids. It may have very well been the highest number of Chariot strollers per capita that I have ever seen.

We quickly realized that what is a friendly pedestrian area is not a friendly stroller area. We didn't venture taking the stroller into any stores for fear that we'd never get out, but the clincher came when we stopped at a cafe for tea and saw the sign "No strollers beyond this point". Really? So we decided to sit at the patio. I probably should have taken our business elsewhere, but I was tired. We we sat down with the stroller on the patio. And the dog-did I mention we had our dog? A few minutes into tea, I read another sign, "No strollers on patio?" Really? And no dogs. Oops. We stayed, no one asked us to leave, but now I felt uncomfortable. The servers were friendly but the rules were not.

We went on the baordwalk by the river-and hauled the stoller up and down the stairs. What would someone in a wheel chair do? No river walk for you.

The trip was still good. We chose to get take out for dinner and eat in our room. Was that influenced by the unpredictable nature of our toddler when we strap her into a high chair, escpecially when we need to wait for food? Of course. And we did visit some fun stores-but individually and not as a family. The second hand book store did have a small kids play area, we were happy to see.

Is this a customary practice to not allow strollers into businesses? Is that the same criteria as wheelchair accessibility?

Yes, strollers are big and awkward. Yes baby carrying can be more friendly at many times. But the amount of stuff that accompanies little people is sometimes too much to carry, with a baby in your arms. And that stroller that may not fit in your store, may be the thing that keeps my toddler from running through your store and checking out all the items on your shelves. Is the no stroller rule saying you don't want stollers in your store, or kids?

A parent has enough things to watch for out that truly matter-keeping the kid from running into traffic, not picking up and eating garbage off the street, not petting stray dogs, leaving items that don't belong to us, where they belong, and not disappearing, period. I personally don't want to also have to watch for the signs that say that I'm not welcome somewhere.